History Majors Present their senior papers at the 2016 Student Research Symposium

Three History Majors presented their senior papers at the 2016 Student Research Symposium, Andrea Woodberry (History, Museum Studies), Anne Willey (History, Biology), and Ethan Taylor (History, Biology). Each paper brought their undergraduate career to a compelling conclusion and sparked much conversation after each excellent presentation.

Read their abstracts below to learn a little more about each one's research.

Andrea Woodberry

"Learning Collaboration: Resettling Hmong Refugees in Decorah, Iowa"

During the Southeast Asian refugee crisis caused by the Vietnam War, Decorah, Iowa became a home to many forced immigrants including those of the Hmong culture. This study examines how a small, rural, Iowan town assisted these refugees to achieve self-sufficiency within the United States.  The project examines the experiences of those refugees and the Americans who helped them adjust to their new situation, while taking into account the cultural differences between the Hmong and Decorah communities. The study includes the medical, educational, employment, and citizenship needs facing this refugee community. Causes and solutions for each need are addressed based primarily on information from oral history interviews and original archival records. This data consistently shows the determination and collaboration of all parties that resulted in a successful model for refugee resettlement.  Not only does this project provide a case study of refugee resettlement in a rural Mid-American setting but it provides a foundation for any further research on Southeast Asian immigrants and their resettlement in Decorah. In a world where new refugee crises are arising daily in various parts of the globe, this case study provides important and relevant information for those seeking to serve current and future refugee communities.

Anne Willey

"Against the Great Destroyer: Historical Prince Edward Island Medical Practice and Regional Realism in L.M. Montgomery's  Anne of Green Gables Series."

The Anne of Green Gables novels by L.M. Montgomery enjoy popularity among readers internationally. These novels are set on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many readers blithely assume that the novels accurately portray the historical Island community; yet literary critics and historians are divided over the value of Montgomery’s literature. Traditional criticism of her work labels the Anne series as a nostalgic representation of Montgomery’s childhood home. However, more recent analysis views the series as highly satirical and a realistic representation of PEI’s historical community. Montgomery's use of rural medical practice on the Island is one variable that may be analyzed in order to strengthen the argument of realism.   By comparing historical Island medical practice (including surgery,  obstetrics, and infectious disease treatments, as well as professionalization) and comparing it to Montgomery's character of Dr. Gilbert Blythe  and his practice, the literary status of Montgomery's works can be better determined.

Ethan Taylor

"Luther and Libation: Alcohol, Reformation, and Society in Early Modern Germany"

The German people have long held a reputation for their love of fermented beverages. The Reformation in particular stands out as a period of history in which drinking, tavern culture, and socio-religio-political discourse were
commonly integrated. Martin Luther himself was a staunch advocate for the consumption of beer, delivering numerous opinions on the subject.

This study attempts to answer a simple question: Did the brewing and drinking culture in early modern Germany accelerate the Reformation
by providing a socially acceptable space (i.e., a tavern) to discuss matters of reform and politics?

Through primary source analysis and a small amount of brewing forensics, this study attempts to explain the relationship between alcohol and popular discourse in northern Germany during the Reformation. Additionally, the beer
Luther preferred and frequently consumed (Einbeckerbier) will be reproduced to gain a better understanding of the technical and public health aspects of the brewing practices of the 16th century. Ideally this study will show a link
between the social habits of the laity (in regard to alcohol consumption) and the rapid spread of Protestantism in Germany through interaction
with reformers.

Yer Vang, Gerry (Geraldine) Schwarz, Andrea Woodberry, and Marilyn Anderson
Anne Willey, '16
Ethan Taylor, '16